Airplane Measurements of Planetary Boundary Layer Structure

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Cola.
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Abstract

Measurements of air velocity and temperature from an airplane in the planetary boundary layer with strong surface heating are used to calculate vertical heat, momentum and energy fluxes, as well as spectral densities and probability distributions of velocity and temperature. Airplane traverses parallel to the wind are compared to crosswind traverses and a definite elongation of the heat transporting eddies, or thermals, parallel to the wind is observed. The terms in the turbulent kinetic energy balance equation (with the exception of the pressure fluctuation term) and the temperature variance balance equation are estimated. The turbulent kinetic energy dissipation is almost constant with height between the lowest flight level of 100 m above the surface, and the highest flight level of 1000 m, which is just below the top of the boundary layer, while the generation term due to the buoyancy force decreases and the divergence of the vertical transport of kinetic energy increases with height to maintain an approximate balance. The temperature variance dissipation decreases rapidly with height and the generation of temperature variance and the divergence of the vertical transport of temperature variance become small above 100 m.

Abstract

Measurements of air velocity and temperature from an airplane in the planetary boundary layer with strong surface heating are used to calculate vertical heat, momentum and energy fluxes, as well as spectral densities and probability distributions of velocity and temperature. Airplane traverses parallel to the wind are compared to crosswind traverses and a definite elongation of the heat transporting eddies, or thermals, parallel to the wind is observed. The terms in the turbulent kinetic energy balance equation (with the exception of the pressure fluctuation term) and the temperature variance balance equation are estimated. The turbulent kinetic energy dissipation is almost constant with height between the lowest flight level of 100 m above the surface, and the highest flight level of 1000 m, which is just below the top of the boundary layer, while the generation term due to the buoyancy force decreases and the divergence of the vertical transport of kinetic energy increases with height to maintain an approximate balance. The temperature variance dissipation decreases rapidly with height and the generation of temperature variance and the divergence of the vertical transport of temperature variance become small above 100 m.

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